The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says it is “dismayed” about US search engine provider Google’s cooperation with the government of Thailand. Now that the US firm has installed a filter to prevent videos portraying the Thai monarchy in a bad light from being displayed, the Thai government has lifted the block on YouTube, a Google subsidiary. In a press release, the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park says the event will set a global precedent for the freedom of expression. The IFJ says it represents half a million journalists in more than 115 countries.
Park says that Google has once again demonstrated its willingness to work with governmental censors, as it did before in China. In Thailand, not only can reports about King Bhumibol Adulyadej land journalists in jail, but a new law to combat computer crime also allows officials to confiscate anyone’s computer if they are suspected of having or propagating “insulting or pornographic” content. The IFJ fears that the Thai government, which is supported by the military, could abuse the law.
At the beginning of April, the government of Thailand blocked YouTube because the video platform contained a 44-second slide show including images the Thai monarch’s head under women’s feet. Google initially refused to delete the offending video, so the Thai government announced it would be filing suit. At the end of last week, it lifted the block when Google agreed to work with the government. (jk/c’t)
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